Crew rescued after Channel ships collide

All 13 crewmen from a chemical product tanker were safely rescued today after they abandoned ship in the English Channel following a collision with a cargo vessel.

The tanker, the Maltese-registered Uranus, was believed to be carrying 6,000 tonnes of solvent.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said that although the vessel was listing heavily it had not sunk and there was no sign of pollution from the incident off the coast of Brittany in north-west France.

An MCA spokesman said: "We have spoken to French coastguards who told us that the 13 people on the Uranus abandoned ship after the collision, which was at 4.27am UK time.

"After taking to lifeboats, they were picked up by a French helicopter and taken to Lanveoc Poulmic, which is south of the port of Brest."

The MCA spokesman continued: "The other vessel involved was the Hanjin Rizhao, which was carrying steel.

"We understand that the Uranus is listing heavily to port but not sinking and there is no sign of pollution. A French frigate and a tug are on the scene. As far as we know, no one has been hurt."

The owner of the Uranus is V.Ships, an international company which supplies ship management services to a fleet of more than 1,000 vessels. Its worldwide offices include one in Glasgow.